Updated: Mar 15
Sleep......a subject I get asked about regularly, particularly with regard to it's lack during 'intense' periods in life. Whilst it can sometimes be elusive, it is always essential, but once we are in sleep debt, it can be difficult to know how to resolve it and we seem to be stuck in a 'bear with a sore head' cycle.
This new entry in our sleep series will see us dive in to what we believe makes sleep potentially one of our greatest tools for holistic health and wellbeing.
Why do we need to sleep?
Many of us are under the impression that sleep is purely to help the body to relax and rejuvenate ready for the next day's energy requirements, (so we can afford to miss the odd hour or two and accept that we may feel a little more tired the next day) but whilst sleep does do that, it is also so much more than that. There are many incredible benefits to good quality and quantity of sleep that can impact all areas of life. It's a very holistically 'busy' time when we not only systematically physically repair and rebalance, but also mentally process the learning opportunities from our interactions and emotionally digest the feelings experienced during the day.
What happens when sleep is disturbed?
My own experience of sleep disturbances (as a result of a culmination of an almost life long record of detrimental sleep patterns) has directly influenced my past experience with overthinking, over sensitivity, overwhelm and anxiety. I've spent the last 4 or 5 years tuning in to me and observing the undeniably strong connection between the physical resilience created during the repair and rebalance aspect of sleep, together with the mental acuity and emotional resilience gained from thought processing and emotion digesting and how these mechanisms can directly impact daily life if not honoured with that most valuable commodity....time.
We've all heard sayings like "sleep on it", "It'll be clearer in the morning" or "you'll feel better after a good sleep", and I believe they're true because we just don't have the capacity in a sleep deprived state to process any backlog of subconscious thoughts, whilst receiving new information and trying to function effectively! The same with emotions....highly strung.....over sensitive.....moody....or simply overwhelmed with previously undigested emotions in addition to the new? I believe it is this overwhelm of unprocessed past information combined with new information that can lead to anxiety and can potentially progress to a chronic state of stress if not alleviated....and chronic stress is a whole other ball game where sleep is concerned!
Of course, I am not denying that there can be physiological triggers for episodes of overwhelm and anxiety symptoms (and if you are concerned about your symptoms then it is important to see your Doctor). Let's consider for a moment that this could potentially be connected with sub par sleep too (amongst other aspects of health like nutrition and movement). Our bodies are continuously working to maintain homeostasis via a complex system of pathways and cascading chemical reactions. These can unfortunately be interrupted in many ways, but given the time and the right tools, our bodies are designed to fix themselves....and much of this happens during the physical repair and rebalance aspect of sleep!
As you can probably gather, holistic health and wellbeing is complex to unravel as all aspects of life are interlinked and directly impact one another. Does poor quality and quantity of sleep come first or is it the overwhelm and anxiety that then impacts sleep? It can be difficult to know where to start, so often we don't! Add to that the unique nature of each and every one of us and you can see why there is no 'one size fits all' answer that will offer sustainable results. Fortunately, that's where coaching can help.
If something in this post has resonated with you and you'd like to chat further about sleep and it's impact on all aspects of your life, start peeling back the layers to find the habits that are potentially keeping you stuck and create healthier habits, please do get in touch...I'm here to help. Alternatively, keep your eyes open for our online Sleep workshops on our events page.